Gamified Wiki System

I remember a having a conversation shortly after Wikipedia started allowing public, anonymous authorship of its encyclopedia:

Me: Dude, these guys on the Internet are trying to create an encyclopedia of everything by letting the whole world contribute whatever they want.

Them: Uh, good luck with that. They’ll never have as much content as GeoCities!

Millions of articles later, it’s amazing how much value we have collectively created, almost completely on a voluntary and pro bono basis. Want to know about something? BOOM there’s a well-written article that explains it with all the detail you need.

The wiki concept has spread like wildfire, all the way to your local team room. Most teams I’ve been on use some kind of wiki to keep track of common knowledge, shared procedures, useful tips, and other project-specific miscellany.

It’s not really a fair comparison, but somehow that Wikipedia community spirit doesn’t really manifest at the small-scale team level. Pages are often disorganized, incomplete, out-of-date, and just plain missing.

I’m as guilty as anyone else on the team. I’ll do some one-off thing and never document it for posterity/repeatability. Or forget to update the page explaining how to connect to the database server when we migrate to a new host. The only thing worse than no information is wrong information. Well, maybe not worse, but almost as bad.

A lot of things we document can certainly be automated into irrelevance, I’ll give you that. But what if there was some way to capture a little piece of the Wikipedia magic? How can we keep ourselves willing, nay eager, to make good information accessible and, crucially, up-to-date?

Gamification seems to be one way to motivate people to contribute content. Just look at Stack Overflow—it’s actually hard to be the first person to answer a question in many topic areas.

StackOverflow leaderboard

The Project

Build a wiki system that uses gamification to encourage teammates to add, edit, and maintain useful information for your project. You could earn points for things like:

There should be virtual badges, too, of course! Some ideas:

Create a new page with 200 words or more
Beat Writer
Make a contribution each day for a week
n00b lover
Create a page that is used primarily by new visitors
Grammar Nazi
Make three edits where only punctuation is changed

The Tricky Bit

If you measure something, somebody is going to game the system to win all the beer money. It’s probably easier to foster an honest, collaborative team culture than write a robust algorithm that prevents your fellow coders from gaming your gamified wiki.